Social Netquirks

By | December 8, 2009


Each social network has its quirk. I want to fix them. Here’s how.

Skype, for example, won’t let you be invisible to certain people. You’re either visible to all your buddies, or none at all. So if you have a contact who thinks a Skype connection is an open invitation to call you up out of the blue, there’s no way to discourage them other than by blocking. Which seems kinda harsh.

Solution: A fake online button that takes calls but never quite connects them due to ‘network difficulties.’

Facebook has its quirks too. One is that it fails to recognise the vagaries of real-world networks. Just because I am friends with 30 friends of someone, doesn’t mean I am friends with him/her. Maybe I was; maybe we just never hit it off. Who knows? I just don’t want to let that person into my Facebook life.

But Facebook, like that overeager Skype caller, doesn’t get the hint. Back these people come into my right hand column of suggested friends. The more you ignore them, the more Facebook bugs you, and the more obvious your mutual indifference/loathing is. Because you assume they’re getting the same messages you are.

Solution: a ‘Mutual Strangers’ button. You hit it and neither of you will ever see or hear anything to do with the other person again. They won’t appear in friends’ buddy lists, in groups, their faces will be airbrushed out of friends’ photos. Just like real life, you need never have to think of them again.

Twitter has a similar quirk: If you find the tweets of a friend/colleague/boss irritating or inane, and the idea of them seeing your tweets somewhat creepy, there’s no way to unfollow—let alone block—without them finding out at some point.

Solution: ‘Pretend follow’ where it looks like you’re following them but actually everything they write goes into the twitter bin, while twitter generates bland, fake tweets from you for them, like ‘in Starbucks’ or ‘interesting story about polar bears eating glacier mints’.

Have I missed anything?

One thought on “Social Netquirks

  1. Matt Buckley-Golder

    Pretty good ideas 🙂

    I think a better solution for the Skype problem might be to have something like priority availability, and be able to assign people to these groups.

    So, you decide whether or not you are only accepting high-priority calls (maybe two states of availability — one for general availability, one for high-priority availability only… maybe Available/Occupied, with the implication that Occupied would still allow high-priority calls) and you flag users as high or low priority. You appear available to high priority calls and busy to those that aren’t high priority.

    I don’t think that’d be too complicated.


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